Storytelling teaches essential curriculum elements to students in a way that is both exciting and memorable. A school visit can involve everything from Grimm's fairy tales to Arthurian myth to the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, and can take the form of a large assembly, a single class visit, or a five-week residency in which students learn to tell stories themselves.
Students at all grade levels can find in storytelling a doorway to greater creativity, social interaction, personal expression, and self esteem, as well as an introduction to themes and characters --such as Odysseus, Gilgamesh, and Sleeping Beauty— that are an essential part of human culture. Stories promote cultural awareness, teach world history, and provide students with a thousand different maps to the forest of growing up. And not only that— stories are fun!
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Fourteen Reasons to be Inspired About Storytelling
- Stories are free. Unlike most film and audio recordings, stories cost nothing.
- Stories strengthen imagination. If the imagination is a muscle, stories require us to use that muscle, and so invigorate memory and thought in a way no other media can.
- Stories can be taken anywhere. All that is required for a story is that you and the listener be in the same place at the same time. No book, DVD, or iPod is required.
- Stories are screen-free. Exposure to screen media suppresses our ability to make images, but storytelling nourishes that ability and causes it to blossom.
- Stories come naturally. Storytelling is a basic human activity performed by physicists, politicians, and so-called "ordinary" people every day, whether we are describing how we are feeling or just performing one of those ancient magical rituals known as jokes. So have no fear-- you probably already tell stories, whether you know it or not!
- Stories help us think. Much of what we call “thinking” is in fact “imagining.” Whether envisioning our weekend plans, what to have for dinner, or the behavior of sub-atomic particles, it is by imagination that these ideas are first explored. By strengthening imagination stories develop our ability to reflect, remember, and plan for the future.
- Stories are interactive. When telling a story, you and the listener often get to comment on the story, ask questions about it, create sound effects, tell parts of it over again, and skip to favorite parts. This high level of interaction is not possible in other media.
- Stories inspire us to ask the big questions. Because stories are so interactive, they can inspire us to question the larger stories of history, gender, and race that we have received. This is the first step towards changing those stories for the better.
- Stories are not owned by corporations. Films, audio-books and computer games are created to make money; traditional stories, legends and myths are not. Telling stories reminds us that entertainment does not need to be purchased.
- Stories are maps of the soul. The majority of traditional stories are intended not simply for entertainment, but to present a spoken map to an area of life such as childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Without a map, it can be difficult to find your way.
- Stories are not just kid-stuff. Unlike entertainment made specifically for children, traditional stories communicate on many different levels at the same time, and so can be enjoyed by both adults and children simultaneously.
- Stories bring good difficulty. Stories bring up subjects that are sometimes difficult; encountering these difficulties inside a story is a way to begin wrestling with them in a safe, reflective and playful way.
- Stories express culture. Stories have been told all over the world for thousands of years, and for this reason are an effective and joyful way to connect with culture and history.
- Stories are fun. That’s one reason they’ve been around for so long, and in some ways it's the only reason any of us need!